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Greg Henderson in action. Photo: Graham Watson.

A tough Napier course will provide new challenges for New Zealand's best cyclists at the national road championships.

An unfamiliar tough new course has added extra zip to the upcoming national road cycling championships in Napier this week.

World Tour rookie Patrick Bevin, who lines up in the colours of his new Cannondale Pro Cycling team, believes the new course could be "absolutely brutal" on a hot Hawke's Bay day.

Bevin, 24, is the sixth New Zealander to ride in this year's UCI World Tour, joining Jack Bauer, George Bennett, Sam Bewley, Greg Henderson and Jesse Sergent.

He is using the nationals as a sharpener leading into the Tour Down Under beginning on January 16, and believes the Napier course will provide a tougher overall test that the daunting Cashmere Hill climb in Christchurch, which has hosted the championships for the past five years.

"It is so hard. I don't think riders realise just how tough it will be.

"If it's a typically hot Hawke's Bay day, then it will be absolutely brutal. It is harder than Christchurch," Bevin said.

"Being a 60kg climber is not going to help much over that climb. There's just not going to be any easy way to get around.

"You will have to hang tough for as long as you can and hope to have some legs left for the final lap."

The championships start with time trials over a technical, occasionally hilly course at Church Road Winery on Friday, followed by the women's 117km race on Saturday and the men's 180km on Sunday.

Timber by EMSIEN-3 LTD